By Beth David, Editor
The Acushnet Selectboard set the tax rate for FY18 at its meeting on Monday, 10/24. The Assessors recommended changing the shift, lowering by .05 the difference between residential and commercial tax rates. Selectboard members, however, voted to keep the rate the same, saying the .05 would just have to be absorbed by residents.
The tax shift is the difference between the residential rate and the commercial rate. State law allows a 175% shift maximum, according to a formula that takes into consideration what percentage of properties is commercial and what percentage is residential. Acushnet’s current tax rate is $14.53 per $1,000 for residential properties, and $18.60 per $1,000 for commercial properties.
The rate will have to be certified by the state.
The board also heard from Town Clerk Pamela Labonte on a recurring issue with the upstairs bathroom and a leaky urinal. Amid a few squeamish chuckles and attempts to make light of the situation, Ms. Labonte did manage to get her point across that the situation is serious.
The bathroom is not supposed to be used, but apparently, someone is forgetting, or simply not heeding the signs that say it should not be used.
After the urinal is flushed, it continues to run, eventually running over and leaking into the clerk’s office.
Ms. Labonte said that some records have been damaged, although she has managed to save them from total destruction.
“Something has to be done,” said Ms. Labonte, insisting that if it were any other office in town, it would not happen nine times before being resolved. “I have voting records, I have vital records. I can’t have a urinal overflowing on them.”
“I blew a gasket,” said Selectboard Chairperson Garry Rawcliffe, adding that the door was supposed to be blocked.
It has happened three times since June.
Mr. Rawcliffe said if the town does not need that bathroom to satisfy a code, that they should just remove it.
Building Inspector James Marot said it was more complicated than it sounds and would cost about $10,000 to remove it.
He said he it is a “non-issue” because he has put a large box in front of the urinal and a lot of signs. He said not only would someone have to aim over the boxes, in order to use the urinal, they have to be “not really smart.”
“I shut it down,” said Mr. Marot. “No water can come out of it.”
Ms. Labonte said she was still skeptical because she had been promised before that it would not happen again, and then…
“It just keeps happening.”
Interim Town Administrator Kevin Paicos said he believed it was the custodian who was using the bathroom at night, and he would speak with him.
Mr. Rawcliffe, however, said the new custodian is a woman, so that should take care of it in any case.
While she was at the podium, Ms. Labonte gave the board an update on early voting. Monday was also the first day that Massachusetts voters could vote in the presidential election.
“All I can say is, ‘wow,’” said Ms. Labonte. “It was incredible. On the first day we had 84 people.”
She emphasized that it was not as simple as voting on election day.
Voting was done in the clerk’s office, but may have to move to the meeting room if it gets too busy.
Ms. Labonte said to all who went to the office: “Thank you, thank you, thank you, for your patience.”
Ms. Labonte also told the board that signs for early voting and precinct changes have been disappearing around town.
She said some people are getting confused between the early voting, which is only happening at town hall, and the change in precinct places for some voters.
She emphasized that voters should go to their regular polling places on November 8 only. If they want to vote early, they have to go to town hall.
She said she did send postcards to all voters, but people are still getting confused. The board decided to do a reverse 9-1-1 call.
“This early voting is becoming much more expensive,” said Ms. Labonte.
“We’ll get it from your budget,” said one board member.
“Good luck,” replied Ms. Labonte.
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